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Why Pocahontas hurts us

Confronting the media's portrayal of Indigenous women

The way media hyper-sexualizes women in TV, film and advertisements is becoming a bigger part of the conversation about sexualized violence against women.

Métis actress Tanis Parenteau is one of the growing voices that thinks this is particularly true for Indigenous women. We’ve heard words like exotic, Indian Princess, Pocahontas... gross. These stereotypes of a ‘sexual savage,’ which have been written about since the times of first contact, have invited men to engage sexually with Indigenous women whether they consent to it or not.  

Using her successful career as an actress to help spread awareness, Parenteaumade a short film that that tackles this problem head on, called A Big Black Space. On her kickstarter site she explains why she was motivated to make the film:

“As a Native American woman I am 2.5 times more likely to be raped or sexually assaulted,” Parenteau said. “There is a troubling behavior I am sometimes subjected to by non-Native males once they learn I'm Native--they show a fascination with it. It becomes a thing that is 'cool' and 'hot' and there's a desire that brews underneath, like a fetish.”

We’re looking forward to the release of this film and hope that we can begin to change the way we are portrayed in film.

For more information on A Big Black Space, click here.

Image source: http://tanisparenteau.weebly.com/

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